Public’s paperwork burden is still overwhelming, report says

The public continues to be overwhelmed with government-related paperwork, despite a wave of e-government initiatives and two laws that aim to reduce such paperwork, according to a new report from the Office of Management and Budget.

In fiscal 2001, the public spent an estimated 7.65 billion "burden hours" responding to government requests for information, the report, "Managing Information Collection and Dissemination," said.

A burden hour is the measurement used by OMB to estimate the amount of time and expense it takes for people to fill out agency forms, reports and other types of paperwork for the government. The figure equated to almost 24 hours per household during fiscal 2001. The IRS accounted for about 80 percent of the governmentwide burden-hour estimate, due mainly to changes on the agency's tax forms, the report said. Burden hours totaled 7.4 billion hours in fiscal 2000, up from 7 billion in fiscal 1995.

"The American people are spending more time than ever before dealing with federal red tape," said Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator John Graham. OIRA oversees compliance with the 1980 and 1995 Paperwork Reduction Acts, which require agencies to reduce the public's paperwork burden. Before agencies can request paperwork from the public, they must get OIRA's approval.

As part of the development of its report, OMB asked all federal agencies to come up with at least two initiatives for reducing paperwork requirements and to submit regular progress reports to OIRA. At the Housing and Urban Development Department, for example, an online loan origination program is expected to streamline the agency's mortgage insurance application process.

OMB said the administration's focus on e-government projects and new guidelines on information quality will help the federal government better comply with paperwork reduction mandates. Last year, OMB issued guidelines that require agencies to make information quality a performance goal and to develop a review process to ensure the integrity of information before it is released.

"We're committed to eliminating paperwork that only burdens and doesn't benefit the public," Graham said.

Federal agencies reduced Paperwork Reduction Act violations in fiscal 2001 to 406, down from 487 violations the previous year.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.